Increased stability boosts Staples’ mobile commerce site

An increase in site availability and decrease in page size allowed the retailer’s mobile home page to jump eight spots on the weekly Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index.

Abby Callard

The logic seems simple: the less data that’s sent, the fewer chances for errors. Staples Inc. seems to have taken that to heart. By decreasing the size of its mobile commerce site home page by 200 kilobytes, the retailer increased site availability by 3.16 percentage points to 97.19%, according to data from mobile and web performance testing, monitoring and analytics firm Keynote.

That’s an impressive figure, says Venkatesh Giri, mobile performance expert at Keynote. For weeks, Staples has been making modifications to its web site to find an optimal blend between the number of elements on the page and the home page size, he says. And they seem to be headed in the right direction, he adds.

“Staples can probably improve performance even further if it can combine resources to reduce the number of HTTP server requests being made to download all the objects from the server,” Giri says. Right now, Staples uses 19 JavaScript files. Giri says those can be combined, which would reduce the overall number of files the server has to download when a user accesses the mobile site, and thus reduce the overall number of back-and-forth HTTP server requests.

For the week ending Aug. 24, Staples’ mobile home page loaded on average in 12.14 seconds, according to the Internet Retailer-exclusive Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index.  Keynote recommends a maximum page load time of 4.5 seconds on a blend of 3G and 4G networks, which is how the index measures mobile sites. The average mobile page load time for all 30 retailers on the index for the week ending Aug. 24 is 11.97 seconds. Staples had a success rate of 97.19%—an increase from 94.03% last week. The average success rate for all 30 retailers is 98.20%.

“Staples is constantly improving our customer experience, especially in the ever changing world of mobile,” says Faisal Masud, the company’s executive vice president of global e-commerce. “Customer feedback has told us businesses want to able to find the products they need and check out quickly, so site performance is critical. By providing what is important to customers, we’ve seen increased traffic and engagement.”

Staples was No. 20 on the Keynote index for the week ending Aug. 24—a jump of eight spots from the previous week. Sears Holdings Corp. topped the index with a load time of 2.12 seconds, a success rate of 99.81%, and a perfect score of 1,000. (Keynote equally weights and combines load time and success rate to achieve a score). The Sears m-commerce site home page contains seven page elements that together weigh 49 kilobytes.

To see complete results (including response time, site availability, page weight in kilobytes, total page elements, and index score) for all 30 retailers on the Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index, click here.

Keynote measures, exclusively for Internet Retailer, 28 stand-alone m-commerce sites optimized for smartphones and two responsive design sites, which are single sites that render content in ways that fit the screen size of a device, including desktop PCs, tablets, smartphones and smart TVs. For the index, Keynote measures the smartphone versions of the responsive sites.

The 30 representative sites include merchants in multiple categories and channels, and of multiple sizes, ranging from such giants as Amazon.com Inc. to mid-sized retailers like Toolfetch.com LLC. Keynote tests the sites in the index every hour Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. through midnight EDT, emulating the Apple iPhone 5 smartphone on two wireless networks: AT&T and Sprint, both using 3G, 4G and 4G LTE networks. Keynote runs the tests in Dallas, New York and San Francisco.

Keynote combines a site’s load time and success rate, equally weighted, into a single score. Given that both performance and availability are important, the score reflects the overall quality of the home page; a higher score indicates better performance. Scores also reflect how close sites are to each other in overall quality. The index average score is the midpoint among all the sites’ scores. To consistently rank high on the Keynote index, sites must hit availability targets of 99.5% or better and be faster than 10 seconds to load on average. Top-performing sites load in under five seconds.

Today, 20% of U.S. Internet-enabled mobile phone users have 4G or 4G LTE wireless data connections, 71% have 3G, and 9% have 2G, according to research firm Informa Telecoms & Media. And according to research and consulting firm Deloitte, 63% of U.S. smartphone users most often connect to the web on their devices on a Wi-Fi network.


Keynote, Keynote Index, m-commerce, mobile commerce, site availability, Staples